Boat Fire and Fuel Spill in Alameda

Last week, a motorboat caught fire at Marina Village Yacht Harbor in Alameda and eventually sank. No one was hurt, but the fire and wreck caused a fuel spill that spread throughout the Oakland Estuary. Two sailboats on either side of the burning boat were also damaged. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

“The boat was completely engulfed,” said Alan Weaver of JK3 Yachts. “I don’t believe there was a breach in the hull,” Weaver added, speculating that the boat was likely sunk as the fire department saturated it with water to fight the flames. Weaver also said that the motorboat did not have any propane onboard; the cause of the blaze was likely electrical.

ABC7 News said last week that fuel from the burned and sunken boat “spread from Alameda all the way to the Oakland Estuary. An inspector with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife described the spill as ‘minor to moderate.’” That inspector said that visually, the spill was deceptive in appearance. “A little bit of oil on water goes a long way and it spreads out very quickly.”

Visually speaking, the sailboats on either side of the inferno were well singed. Weaver said that one of the boats was “cracked from the heat and had some singed sail covers.” Formerly the harbormaster at Marina Village for 23 years, Weaver said that a fire was always his “worst nightmare.”

While the cause of the fire is unknown, this incident serves as a reminder to take caution this winter, when many of us are running heaters on our boats.

3 Comments

  1. Candy 2 months ago

    This was a terrible event but could have been so much worse. Fire aboard is the absolutely worst case scenario & takes precedence over anything else. My own boat is on the dock from where some of the footage was shot. For anybody interested, there is an excellent article in the November issue of Bay & Delta Yachtsman regarding fire extinguishers & their proper uses. The column is called Lessons Learned by Capt. Pat Carson. We might all want to revisit the requirements & make sure our extinguishers are current & serviced.

  2. Joshua Williams 1 month ago

    Candy excellent points regarding extinguishers. I would add that early detection is paramount to protect your vessel and life from fire on board. Smoke alarms should be placed in every room on the boat and even considered in or near the engine compartment and lockers. A carbon monoxide detector should also be on board. There are inexpensive combination alarms available from any hardware store or chandlery and are a cheap investment for the peace of mind they provide. If you already have smoke alarms don’t forget to change your batteries when you change your clocks.

  3. Laurel Kaleda 1 month ago

    Fire extinguishers and warning systems are both valid recommendations. However, since the fire was after 9PM, and no one was on any of the 3 boats affected, the only effective measure would have been an automatic extinguisher system near the origin of the fire. From info on Facebook and on the docks, people on board boats on Dock 2, and further out on Dock 3 were the first to see the blaze and call in help. They alerted all liveaboards and helped ensure that no one was in danger. That no one was hurt or injured was good news. The two sailboats on either side are another story . . . Ours was the one with less, although substantial damage, but she will be repaired!

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